Biddy, a relative of Mr. Wopsle, acts as Pip’s teacher, confidante, voice of reason, and lost love interest at various points in the novel. Pip’s relationship with Biddy morphs as they grow up and his views of the world change, but she consistently represents the comforts of home and settling down that he tries to run from. Biddy’s life begins similarly to Pip’s in that she, too, is a young orphan who “had been brought up by hand.” Despite her “common” appearance being a little rough around the edges, Pip initially seeks her out in the hopes that her knowledge could help him become “uncommon.” Biddy’s support during this early stage of his transformation reveals her friendly and supportive nature, qualities that starkly contrast with those of Pip’s newest acquaintance, Estella. Once Biddy becomes Mrs. Joe’s caretaker and integrates herself into the family, Pip notices that the once unkept little girl turned into a “bright and neat” woman who “was pleasant and wholesome and sweet-tempered.” Descriptions like this one emphasize Biddy’s role as a foil character for the heartless Estella and a symbol of home’s comforts.
While Biddy’s character does largely follow this warm, nurturing trajectory, she also acts as a voice of reason and pushes back against Pip when his “expectations” begin to reveal his harshest qualities. She first tries to get him to see the goodness inherent in life at the forge and asks him to evaluate his true motivations to become a gentleman. When these entreaties fail, Biddy defiantly challenges Pip’s assumptions and defends Joe’s life at the forge. The fact that she is willing to push back against Pip’s arrogant attitude suggests that she believes the livelihoods of the villagers are equally as legitimate as those of gentlemen. This belief carries her through to the end of the novel in which, having maintained respect for her station, she works as the mistress of a school and happily marries Joe. Biddy’s character ultimately offers a vision of what Pip’s life could have been if he had resisted the temptations of Estella’s beauty and upward mobility.